Football is increasingly sold and consumed as a source of entertainment, but Liverpool’s 0-0 draw with Manchester United was proof that it is a sport first and foremost. Sport persistently refuses to the follow the script, and last night’s game failed to live up to expectation as a spectacle.
The result was a decent one for both teams, though given the form of both sides leading up to the match United will be the happier. There has been plenty of talk about Mourinho ‘parking the bus’, but this isn’t quite true. He certainly came with a plan for how to play without the ball, but actually looked to press high early on and stop Liverpool from playing out from the back.
‘Parking the bus’ implies defending in numbers on the edge of your penalty area, which is not how United set out; though they got progressively deeper as the game went on.
People have developed something of an obsession for Mourinho’s tactics in big games; one camp christened them ‘anti-football’ and another (including Sky after the game) called it a ‘masterclass’. Both extremes are stupid and infantile. Defending well is part of the game, and it us up to the opposition to find a way through which Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool failed to do.
On the other hand, ‘good football’ as it’s commonly understood involves defending well and attacking well, and there wasn’t much of the latter from United with Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic disappointing. United did plenty of things right, but to call it a ‘masterclass’ is an almighty stretch. We suggested three things we learned from last night’s game.